ABSTRACT

The Eagle Ford Formation has attracted considerable industry attention as a self-sourced unconventional shale reservoir. The productive interval in the Eagle Ford Formation is the transgressive systems tract, which contains parasequences whose lithologic content varies upward with increasing proportions of limestones. Optimum success in both exploration and production depends on the adequate characterization of fracture systems as a function of lithology. The outcrops present along US Highway 90 in Val Verde and Terrell Counties, Texas, provide considerable insight into the regional natural fracture system of the Eagle Ford Formation. Fracture-orientation analysis reveals two sets of conjugate hybrid shear fractures and two sets of regional fractures. Abutting relationships suggest that hybrid shear fractures formed first, followed by the thoroughgoing northeast-striking fracture set, and finally by a northwest-striking set, which tends to be confined to individual mechanical units. The orientation of these fractures suggests that they formed during post-Laramide stress relaxation and progressive exhumation. Spacing-frequency distribution analysis of the fracture population reveals a mature hypersaturated fracture system that likely formed at depth by overburden load and/or fluid pressure near maximum burial. Our results indicate that the Eagle Ford Formation displays a well-developed fracture network regionally distributed in the Val Verde Basin, and likely present in the productive Eagle Ford play. These observations provide evidence for pathways and vertical connectivity for potential fluid pathways throughout the Eagle Ford Formation.

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